2020 is the year of musical comebacks and nostalgia-soaked trips to the past accompanied by synths. Staple British ’80s band the Psychedelic Furs has righteously hopped on this year’s bandwagon, releasing its first album in almost 30 years. The band’s eighth album, titled Made of Rain, was released July 31 as a successor to 1991’s World Outside.
Rocketing to fame when their hit song, “Pretty in Pink,” inspired and was featured in the 1986 John Hughes film of the same name, the Psychedelic Furs have had much to live up to with their iconic 1980s discography. Made of Rain is a solid attempt at reviving the band’s meaningful and sonically pleasing soundscape.
“The Boy That Invented Rock & Roll” bursts onto the scene as a strange initial attempt at asserting the Psychedelic Furs’ prowess and timelessness. The track’s dark keys and sinister saxophone, however, tend to sound disjointed, making this song, along with the next few, a slow and rather underwhelming start to the record.
But “Wrong Train” flips Made of Rain on its head, ushering in a refreshing throwback to the Psychedelic Furs’ earlier work, not bogged down by too dark of a sound. The lilting guitars and wistful nature of the tune complement lead singer Richard Butler’s passionate and powerful delivery, a lovely showcasing of his range. Butler’s voice clearly aged gracefully, his deep, raspy voice taking on a tone of maturity that’s equally as commanding as the seriousness his voice had in his youth. The way Butler sings “I need you right now” is delivered with such an emotional intensity, it’ll give you chills.
“This’ll Never Be Like Love” builds on the positive turn taken by “Wrong Train,” further allowing Butler to switch between soft, airy vocals to a loud, yearning delivery. “This’ll Never Be Like Love” brings back the dreamy, wailing guitar found in much of the band’s less commercially successful but fan-loved work. The track seems like only part of an oasis of perfect songs, but much to the pleasure of listeners, the rest follow in suit.
“Come All Ye Faithful” and “No-One” depart from the somberness found earlier and instead adopt funkier beats and chill, fuzzed guitars. The Psychedelic Furs’ snarky, cynical tone is back in full swing, complete with a foreboding, yet teasing saxophone. “No-One” in particular has the band’s signature haunting, grooving sound. “And who’s gonna cut you down why no one/ And get your feet on the ground why no one at all,” sings Butler, a sharp jab addressing the futility of human nature.
The last few songs on Made of Rain take a calmer and more somber turn, but retain the momentum the Psychedelic Furs’ has thus built up. “Turn Your Back on Me” is a dreamy, moving number that would’ve been right at home in the end credits of another ’80s romance movie.
While Made of Rain gets off to a slow start, it is quickly redeemed in a matter of seconds. It’s as though the Psychedelic Furs had a small lapse in knowing their identity, momentarily falling prey to uninteresting melodies and filler songs. Despite this stumble, the Psychedelic Furs should pride themselves on being one of the few bands to truly capture the essence of the ’80s and bring it to modern times without compromising the integrity of their music. The lyrics are packed and inspired, while the best instrumentals on the record sound as if they’ve been composed and recorded right back in the decade they intend to emulate.
The band has always had a unique alternative approach to building on to its new wave foundation and continues to channel this on Made of Rain, incorporating the best stirring and melancholic parts of the genre with a dual synth and guitar-woven tapestry of sound. Made of Rain is an overall triumph for the Psychedelic Furs, especially in a time when ’80s revival music tends to stray further from the beloved originals.
Pooja Bale covers music. Contact her at [email protected].